Bible Translations

from my Yeshiva Class – November 22, 1997

“For the past several centuries English-speaking peoples have cherished the King James Version of the Bible. This love does not come from a desire to preserve a tradition for tradition’s sake. Rather, the opposite is true: the King James Version, hereafter called “the KJV” has become a tradition because it is loved for its scholarship, literacy and devotional quality.” This paragraph was taken from the forward of my Bible and I believe it is true. I would like to present a short history of the KJV and you will learn why it is so loved.

In the summer of 1603, when King James was on his way to London to receive the English crown, he was presented with a petition of grievances by clergy holding Puritan convictions. A conference was called for and held for three days, January 14 – 16, 1604. It was held to determine “things pretended to be amiss in the church” and was known as the Hampton Court Conference. It was decided there that a new translation of the Bible be undertaken. Fifty-four of the best biblical scholars in Great Britain were brought together for this great task, divided into six groups. It took seven years to complete.

The result of this action was an English translation which bore the title, “ The Holy Bible, Conteyning the Old Testament, and the New, Newly Translated out of the Originall tongues: & with the former translations diligently compared and revised: by his Majesties speciall Comandement. Appointed to be read in Churches. Imprinted in London by Robert Barker, Printer to the Kings most excellent Majestie. Anno Dom. 1611”

The KJV Bible we now read is the fifth major revision of this work. Others being prepared in 1629, 1638, 1762 and 1769. There have since been many translations from many different doctrinal groups – each biased in their own way. Rev. D.A. Waite, B.A., M.A., Th.D, Ph.D and Director of “The Bible for Today” since 1971, has written over 700 other studies, booklets, cassettes and videos on this and other topics. He feels so strongly about this that he has made the defense of the KJV his life’s work. One of his books, a 306 page work called, “Defending the King James Bible” is quoted often in this page. It is his hope that we will examine what we find here, keep an open mind and encourage others to do the same. This is also my hope – with the addition of letting the Holy Spirit lead us into the truth of this matter. If we are not to “omit, add or change” God’s word how do we deal with the subject of all these different translations? We can only believe, God in His infinite wisdom, has allowed the core of truth to be preserved and handed down to us in our day.

To keep what could be a long boring discourse on this subject, I have tried to pare it down to these two pages with the hope that you (and I) will gain a little knowledge and a desire to find out more. Some will – some won’t. But that’s just the way it is! Now, to the meat of the matter:

The Old Testament -

The Hebrew Bible has come down to us through the scrupulous care of the scribes, (soferim) who copied the original text. We learned about how they entered the mikveh before each day’s work, used a special pen for writing only the name of God, etc. etc. Each line was counted, each letter was counted. The utmost care was taken to preserve the EXACT word of God. By the sixth century AD the scribes were succeeded by a group called the Masoretes, (coming from the Hebrew word masor, meaning traditional in Hebrew) who continued to preserve the sacred scriptures for another 500 years in a form known as the Masoretic Text.

Another group of some 70 scholars translated the Scriptures into Greek as the common language of the day was Greek and all the Jews spoke it fluently. This became known as the Septuagint (meaning 70). Now we have our precious Hebrew put into Greek – the bad guys who tried to turn Israel into a Greek colony and forbade the use of the Hebrew tongue as in Antiachus Epiphanes! How will this help us understand God’s word better? It would seem the Masoretic Text would be the best. Another translation is the Biblia Hebraica, 1937 edition. There are over 20,000 changes from the Masoretic Text in this translation. How can this be? What happened to “count the words and the letters” etc? What happened to “not one jot or tittle” shall be changed? Which translations of the Bible can we believe?

Let the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) be your guide!

See you next time!
Shalom, Sharaka
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